Best New Music: Nonso Amadi & Zinoleesky Are A Perfect Pairing On “Lock Up”
Off his debut album, 'When It Blooms'
Off his debut album, 'When It Blooms'
A few months before the pandemic took over the world early 2020, singer and producer Nonso Amadi took a much needed hiatus from the scene. Rejuvenated with a renewed focus after an evidently rewarding time away, Nonso Amadi made a noteworthy return in 2022 with new single, “Foreigner” and a collaborative deal with Universal Music Canada. His return was welcomed by the generation of millennials and Gen Z whose music he found favour with, and displayed an update on his familiar R&B style accompanied with illustrious chord arrangements. Evidently still ruled by his reflections on love, the track expressed the singer’s deep infatuation and dedication his muse
Prior to this, he enlisted Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan on “Different,” before sharing “Eye to Eye” and “Ease Up,” two singles which were replete with clever wordplay. Now, the singer is unveiling the world around his debut album ‘When It Blooms,’ a collection of songs poised to celebrate his maturity and experience as both an artist and person. Alongside the four promotional singles, the singer has now shared new single “Lock Up,” a delightful new cut which features Street Pop’s Crowned Prince, Zinoleesky.
On “Lock Up,” Nonso Amadi expertly finds a middle ground between his energy and that of Zinoleesky’s. Over the past few years, Zinoleesky has risen up as one of the ascendant stars from the street-pop scene. Flooding our airwaves with his freestyles and singles during his debut year, Zinoleesky wrestled his way into wider Afropop conversations off the back of the sheer quality of his voice and his sharp and gritty lyricism. It doesn’t come as a surprise that he has become a sought after collaborator for a number of artists in the past few months.
Before his project ‘Grit & Lust,’ last December, Zino was already inching his ways into several high-flying collaborations. For instance, the singer featured on a string of feel-good tracks such as “O’dun” with Naira Marley, “Kilometre Remix” with BNXN, “Blessings” with producer, Niphkeys, “No More Condition” with Rexxie, among others. In the space of a few months, Zinoleesky had more than proved his salt as a formidable collaborator with the ability to hop on an artist’s track and bolster it to greater heights. This year, it’s clear that Zinoleesky is wasting no time to keep his output fresh and exciting for his listeners. Already, the singer has featured on Adekunle Gold’s “Party No Dey Stop,” a sonic shift from his predominantly soulful discography, which harbours hit records like “Before You Wake Up.”
Its this rapid-fire ability that Zinoleesky also brings to Nonso Amadi’s latest single “Lock Up” off his forthcoming project, ‘When It Blooms.’ While the singer landed his breakout hit from his heartwarming 2016 breakout single, “Tonight,” a soulful R&B-tinged cut with soft twinkling keys, “Lock Up” is a testament of his sonic evolution. On paper, the marriage of their two distinct sounds may raise eyebrows, however, the pair deliver an outstanding performance on “Lock Up,” showing where Afropop is able to go sonically and lyrically.
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Over an intoxicatingly jovial beat, Nonso Amadi maintains his loverboy anguish as he addresses a love interest who he’s willing to go the lengths for. The rhythmic mid-tempo production encapsulates his romantic and personal emotions for his love interest as he expresses his interminable love and affection singing “This kind love wey you give me, Abi na miracle ye pa/Her name na miracle ye pa, Top of the pinnacle ye pa.” In typical Nigerian colloquial vocabulary, “Lock Up translates to shut up,” Nonso Amadi explains as means to shun all intruders and naysayers of the relationship.
Coming in shortly after the first verse and chorus, Zinoleesky’s instantly recognisable vocals take over the track as he reiterates its themes in the most brutally honest way, “See many man shall fall that day, If anybody try touch my bae.” With production credits attributed to P.Prime and Nonso Amadi, Zinoleesky is able to deliver a standout performance in his few short lines as his gritty rendition drives home the points in a way Amadi’s sweet-sounding vocals might not have. Undisputed king of memorable one liners, he doesn’t close out his verse without delightful rhymes, “Charge her up like any other day, She thinks I’m Michael Faraday/She hit me up when she wants to escape, She knows I take her faraway.”
Following a few rounds of the beautifully delivered, mellifluous chorus, the outro of the track takes on another perspective. More mellow and vulnerable, Nonso Amadi addresses his hiatus and future aspirations as well as the socio-political climate in Nigeria through the lens of police brutality, “Government men make you fear them o/Them dey carry gun and them get round o.” Amidst the chaos, he lets us know that leans on his love interest as a form of escapism.
Ahead of the release of ‘When It Blooms,’ Nonso Amadi has proven again to be an outstanding vocalist with a few tricks up his sleeve. Skilfully leading in with Zinoleesky’s witty and confident verses, Nonso hints that his debut album will be an expansive exploration of his sound alongside a more possible collaborators.
Listen to “Lock Up” here.
Featured image credits/NATIVE